Some people have always known what they're passionate about since the day they could hold a pen, play the accordion, or draw up schematics.
For others, a seed of interest is placed at some point in their lives, but doesn't fully blossom until years later.
And that's how I discovered my passion for online video and digital entertainment.
I'd always known early on that I loved stories. When you grow up with your mom reading to you before bed every night, it's kind of difficult not to fall in love with those remarkable characters and the adventures they find themselves in. So it was only natural that my obsession with story carried over to the screen.
And I tell you, growing up I had a lot of screen time. My mom tells me I watched The Little Mermaid on VHS every single day after she bought it, and I distinctly remember racing to get my homework done in time to watch Little House on the Prairie.
That love of story presented itself in different forms over the years. Though I continued to watch television and movies, I started to do more creative writing and perform in plays. I found out about this thing called "the internet" sometime in the early 1990s, and I joined some online RPG games that finally let me vicariously live out my dream of owning a horse stable.
Then one day, I discovered online video. A friend of mine at school showed me this video called "The End of the World" on albinoblacksheep.com. (FYI, "The End of the World" is not safe for work - NSFW.)
I was astounded. How had someone even conceived of the idea to put a video online?
From thereon out, I was hooked on the idea of putting stories directly into digital formats to be watched not on the traditional screens I was used to in the living room or movie theater, but on the screen on my computer.
This interest was fed by the introduction of YouTube in 2005, and my discovery of the production company Rooster Teeth around the same time (their videos are also NSFW - it's a good thing my work is freelancing from home). Next, there was the creation of a digital media production department at my college only a few years later, so I signed up for the very first class and learned all about video production first-hand. I also acted as producer when my friends and I entered the department's newly-created 48-hour film challenge; we won best of show three out of the five years we entered.
When Felicia Day's web series, The Guild, reached cult-like success, I recognized that online video was an upcoming contender in the entertainment industry. And when shows like House of Cards and Arrested Development went directly to Netflix instead of regular cable television networks, you can imagine I was geeking out over the implications that decision had on the future of where and how we consume entertainment.
That seed of interest planted in me many years ago had finally blossomed, encompassing not just books and theater and film/TV, but also digital entertainment, direct-to-streaming, and online video. As such, I recently joined the International Academy of Web Television to grow my network in these industries, and I'm gobbling up information about video marketing and production like it's going out of style (it's not, by the way).
My suspicions about the popularity of digital entertainment have been confirmed by several recent events and statistics. Disney is in the process of acquiring YouTube network Maker Studios for $500 million, and Yahoo is aiming to create original TV series like Netflix did with House of Cards. In terms of using video in marketing, the industry's exploding with demand and opportunity. For example, 25% of marketers learned last year that embedding video in their email newsletters and campaigns resulted in a 280% higher return than traditional emails.
Obviously, I'm not the only one with a passion for spending a little more screen time with video.
So in this new column, I hope to share online video and digital entertainment trends, insights, and thoughts with you so we can discuss the fascinating developments happening within these industries.
That being said, l want to leave you with this question: when did you first realize that online video and digital entertainment were here to stay?
Leave your comment below to get the conversation started. I promise to peel my eyes away from cute cat videos to respond.